After six days on the run, a German Shepherd named Max was reunited with his family, thanks to the tireless efforts of local volunteers with non-profit Granite State Dog Recovery.
When Max’s excursion got his owner, Charles Leroy Barcus, 62 of Conway, into trouble after he went out looking for his furry friend, he hit the pavement.
While Barcus, who was staying at the Red Roof Inn in Salem, was out searching for Max, motel staff spotted the German Shepherd in the yard. When staff went to Barcus’ room to tell him they had spotted his dog, they detected a strong smell of marijuana and called Salem Police.
Barcus was arrested after police discovered 20 pounds of marijuana and $106,000 in his motel room, and the department’s animal control officer responded to the area to apprehend Max. But he would not go lightly.
“Our animal control officer responded to the area along with several of our police officers, who tried their hardest to get Max; however, he was too skittish and he kept running away,” Capt. Jim Chase said.
“The dog has a fear aggression history, so we were informing the public not to call after him, or chase or corner him,” said Holly Mokrzecki, founder and president of Granite State Dog Recovery (GSDR).
Max ran from Exit 2 to Exit 3 of Interstate 93, then got off the highway and ran through the construction on Route 111 in Windham. Running against traffic, he traveled up the southbound ramp of Exit 3 and made it all the way to Exit 4 in Londonderry.
Over the next six days, Max was seen running back and forth between Exit 4 and Exit 3. Mokrzecki estimate the 90-pound German Shepherd traveled about 18 miles each day.
“He was running on Interstate 93 until Thursday late afternoon (June 25). He was spotted running against traffic on the southbound side. Some traffic stopped and State Police were trying to catch him. It took a lot of different agencies to catch one dog,” she said. “Dogs will usually circle back to where they were lost. I think he couldn’t get across to the Exit 3 area, otherwise he would have gone back to the motel.”
Finally, around 5:20 a.m. Sunday, June 28, Mokrzecki and another volunteer were able to lure Max into a tru-catch trap with a rotisserie chicken.
A Londonderry animal control officer worked with the volunteers to get Max out of the trap and into the kennel at the Police Station.
“He was very frightened; you could see his back legs trembling,” Mokrzecki said. “We were on guard ourselves; knowing his history, we were as nervous as him.”
The team opened the back of the trap and threw food in the back of the kennel, which Max was eager to accept.
The 3-year-old dog ate four cans of dog food and three cups of dry food before enjoying some much-needed rest after his risky excursion.
“He’s lucky to be alive,” Mokrzecki said.
And the story’s happy ending – Max was finally reunited with Barcus’ daughter, whom Londonderry Police said was happy to see her family’s dog.
GSDR volunteers, all of whom work full-time jobs in addition to the time they devote to the non-profit, committed nearly 100 hours to Max’s rescue.
“This is our passion. It’s something we love to do. It’s heartwarming to know we just helped reunite a family,” said Mokrzecki, who owns Granite State Pet Sitting.
More information about GSDR’s services to the community, including an action plan with steps detailing what to do if a dog is missing, is available online at www.granitestatedogrecovery.com.
GSDR also has a Facebook Page with almost 150,000 followers, all of whom Mokrzecki said play an important role in helping the team locate missing dogs in New Hampshire.
Mokrzecki recommends anyone who sees a dog roaming alone to call animal control immediately.
“A lot of work goes into catching one dog,” she said, adding that sadly, for every dog they reunite with its family, 20 more go missing.